Henry A. Doll
Henry A. Doll III, who spent 40 years in law enforcement, told his supervisors that helping to train Iraq's new police force would make him a better police officer. "I feel this opportunity to serve my country would benefit [the sheriff's office] upon my return," Doll wrote to Collier County Sheriff Don Hunter, in Naples, Fla., last July to request a leave of absence. "Dealing with terrorism issues overseas would give me firsthand experience, which would be invaluable to the agency."
Doll spent much of the 1960s in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. He became a Pennsylvania state trooper, serving high-risk warrants on felons and rappelling out of helicopters as part of the SWAT team, said his son, Henry Doll, who is a state trooper in Maryland. Later, Henry Doll joined the Collier County Sheriff's Office, where he rose to the rank of corporal and worked in the bailiff bureau and patrol division.
When the 56-year-old Doll decided to join DynCorp, a unit of Computer Sciences Corp., Henry Doll says he asked his dad whether the dangerous working conditions would be worth the salary. His dad responded that it wasn't the money. "It was quite the adrenalin rush, that's how he described it," Henry Doll said. "It was something he felt he could do as a patriotic thing. It was a thrill for him."
-- Renae Merle
When he retired from the police force in 2002, Jesse Gentry bought a 29-foot boat named the River Rat. After several months of sailing, he grew bored and took a job with DynCorp, training Iraq's new police force. Teaching was familiar territory for him. His two tours in Vietnam included time training South Vietnamese soldiers, his wife Vicki Gentry said. And when Gentry landed at the Sanford Police Department in Sanford, N.C., after 20 years in the military, he served as a mentor to younger officers.
"He was more of a father figure, slash first sergeant," said Detective Billy Rodgers, Gentry's former partner.
When the 61-year-old Gentry arrived in Iraq in March, he assumed a kind of elder statesman role. "Jesse was 10 years older than me, had served in the military," said Joe Janowski, a former Pennsylvania police officer who worked with Gentry in Iraq. "I listened to his wisdom."
Gentry arrived in Iraq as violence was escalating. He told his wife that it was difficult to travel without a military escort and that he spent much of the first month hanging around the pool. When he started working, it was not what he expected, his wife said.
Gentry told her that instead of teaching, he was doing intelligence work for the military. She said he didn't describe his work in detail, but she could tell he was frustrated. "Without adequate interpreters and training space, he couldn't do what he was sent over there to do," she said. "He told me it was like being on the front lines of Vietnam."
In May, Gentry and Doll died while traveling in a military convoy of 10 vehicles from Tikrit to Baghdad. The convoy was traveling fast to make it a tougher target for insurgents, said Janowski, who was driving.
"You can't stop because of the possibility of an ambush," he said.
A Humvee near the front of the convoy honked at a taxi partially blocking the convoy, then bumped it to make it move out of the way, he said. The taxi swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting the contractors' SUV, he said.
-- Renae Merle
Even as a child, Vincent Foster was fascinated by toy guns, according to his mother, Susan Foster. After joining the Marines in the mid-1990s, Foster was recruited for a sniper unit, where he impressed the platoon commander, Eric Blondheim. "I said to myself, 'Who is this kid?' " Blondheim said. "There are formulas you have to understand for precision shooting, and he had it down."
After years in the Marines, Foster's family persuaded him to try civilian life. He studied computer science at the University of Nevada in Reno, but his mother said he struggled with the math. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks occurred during his junior year, and his marksman skills were in high demand.
A security company called Surgical Shooting Inc. recruited him to teach Navy sailors how to handle firearms and to conduct training exercises, said his stepfather, Sandy Ress. Foster later did similar work for Blackwater Security Consulting.
Last year, Foster decided to join the Washington Army National Guard. But before he was sworn in, he heard that Cochise Consultancy, a Valrico, Fla., security firm, was hiring people with military experience to guard Iraqi weapons that were being destroyed.
The National Guard would have required a year of training, but as a Cochise employee, Foster could go to Iraq in less than a month. Foster accepted a six-month contract with Cochise and deployed with a few friends. "I didn't want him over there. I think I cried for two weeks," his mother said.
Foster arrived in Iraq in January. His e-mails home were short and reassuring. "He loved it," she said. "Every e-mail I got from him, he was happy."
-- Renae Merle
Kellogg Brown & Root
Last June, two days after 56-year-old Daniel Parker retired from a two-decade career with the U.S. Border Patrol, he was on his way to Iraq.
Jacquie Parker, his wife of 31 years, said he went for two reasons: to earn money for his children's college tuition and weddings bills and to do some good. Parker had served two tours in Vietnam and left the military as a first lieutenant.
"He said he blew apart South Vietnam and now he had a chance to rebuild" something instead, his wife said.
Parker was working as a teacher at the Border Patrol Academy when friends told him Halliburton Co.'s Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary was recruiting personnel for Iraq. KBR hired him to go to Iraq as a security coordinator. In the 325 e-mails Parker sent his wife during his time in Iraq, he told tales of poverty and dust and fearful people.
Jacquie Parker sat at her computer every night waiting for his regular e-mail. On May 7, it didn't come. Daniel Parker called home, saying not to worry -- the computers were down. Then, 97 minutes later, she said, an explosive device detonated near the convoy he was protecting outside Baghdad International Airport. A piece of shrapnel severed his spinal cord and killed him.
-- Ellen McCarthy
Michael Rene Pouliot
Michael Rene Pouliot was driving near Camp Doha in Kuwait in January 2003 when a sniper emerged from the bushes and fired 22 bullets into his sport-utility vehicle, killing him and wounding a co-worker.
The 46-year-old was the executive vice president of Tapestry Solutions, a San Diego company he co-founded in 1993 after working as an aerospace engineer at General Dynamics Corp. The firm's software was used to coordinate military operations. He had a small team of employees stationed with the Army in Kuwait.
Pouliot had gone to check on his team there, his second trip to the Middle East in two months. "Mike was never afraid of anything," said Carol Pouliot, his wife of nearly 25 years. "He was so proud. For him to be a non-military guy and yet contributing so much was just fulfilling beyond words."
Her daughters, Tessa, 14, and Megan, 13, often wish it had been someone else hit that day, said his wife. But she said she's comfortable with the decisions he made. "Anyone who can stand up and face dangers . . . anyone who follows their convictions is a gold mine," she said.
-- Ellen McCarthy